Global church bodies praise Obama's Nobel Peace Prize win

By Stephen Brown
October 10, 2009

The awarding of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize to US President Barack Obama should inspire younger generations to become "bridge builders for understanding and reconciliation", says the General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation.

"President Obama has helped generate a tidal wave of hope around the world," said the Rev Ishmael Noko, General Secretary of the Geneva-based LWF in a 9 October statement. This followed the announcement of the award to Obama for his efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation.

Obama "has begun to restore broken relationships, including across faith boundaries", said Noko, a theologian from Zimbabwe. "These are very significant contributions to progress towards peace and security and important foundations for facing the global crises we must face."

Noko cited Obama's involvement in the search for peace in the Holy Land. "His leadership in this matter deserves the active support of all people of good will, for the sake of both the Palestinian and Israeli peoples, and for the sake of peace with justice in the land of Christ's birth."

The LWF leader noted that the announcement of the Peace Prize coincided with the 20th anniversary of the peaceful revolution in the former East Germany, which culminated on 9 October 1989 in peaceful demonstrations after prayers in churches in Leipzig.

"These events demonstrated the power of ordinary people coming together to achieve freedom through non-violent means, bearing candles against guns and the threat of violence, and the importance of the Church's role," said Noko.

Also in Geneva, the Rev Setri Nyomi, general secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, said, "This is the right choice. We thank God for the wisdom President Obama continues to exhibit in navigating the complex issues of his nation and of the world - seeking peace, seeking justice and seeking the welfare of all.”

In Rome, Vatican spokesperson the Rev. Federico Lombardi said the Roman Catholic Church "salutes with appreciation" the award to Obama, the Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported.

Lombardi referred to "the commitment shown by the president towards the promotion of international peace and recently in favour of nuclear disarmament".

[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches.]

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